Sunday, September 30, 2012


Presenting the Rambo Bright flimsy!

 I love it. I hope the bride and groom love it too.

 The quilt top is 91" square. The groom is 6'4." It might fit him.

 Although I refuse to apologize for poor pictures (I blame the camera), I will absolutely not post pictures of the completed quilt unless I can find a lighting solution that will work for my pathetic camera. I'm still accepting donations for a new photographic device.

What else should I say about this quilt top? So many things went well: the math worked out, the colour distribution is pleasant yet jumbled, and it is scrappy and huge - exactly the way I designed it.

There shall never be a pattern written up for this quilt - I couldn't if I tried hard. T & H are getting a thoroughly unique item.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Medium

I thought I would switch gears this afternoon because the Rambo Bright flimsy is FINISHED. I cannot show pictures today because I need help photographing. For those of you who are local, I will be at Johnson's South at 10:30 tomorrow to show it off and to pick out backing and binding. Please come by and see it in person. I will post pictures here as soon as I get home, 'cause I'm so darn excited about this finish.

So what did I do that was new? I dusted off the ol' knitting needles.

Say wha....? I really don't knit. I could never get the right rhythm and I'm very slow. But I just couldn't resist when I read this post at Mari Makes. Tell me this is not the cutest idea - it was enough to inspire me to knit. I made a sweet little pair of mini-mitts. It only took 8 false starts before I could figure out how to do the "knit 1 purl 1" for the ribbing.

I am already planning to make a pair or two each week until Christmas season and then string them up to decorate our tree. I cannot decide what to do with the strings, so I ended up just tucking them inside. Here's a shot for scale:

Three inches! So terribly cute. And I'm so terribly impressed with myself. I may even attempt to knit mitts for my children, providing someone sends me a pattern (hint, hint). In the future, I might switch to a smaller size of needles for the ribbing - it looks a little loose to me.

The Pixie was also very impressed with the tiny mittens. She claimed them for her blue baby. This was taken just before she ran off with them.

Goodbye, sweet mini-mitts.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Push

I've been working hard to get Rambo Bright together, and get it over to Cathy Tomm for quilting. I've been pushing myself pretty hard, and my body feels it in a big way today. When I'm done writing this post, I am jumping into a hot bath and then taking Sunday the way it's meant to be - a day of rest.

Yesterday, I put un-sashing on every alternate block. Way back when I was working out the pattern for the quilt top, I decided that I would corral some of the chaos with a bit of neutral to rest the eye. I chose a mottled grey because this couple has a bit of a darker personality than white would allow.

The centers of the alternate blocks are only 6.5" square, while the block A's are 9.5". This won't give me much "sashing" to equalize the sizes, but it should work to contain the colour and give each construction seam at least one on-grain side. After trimming, I had this pile:

Here is a shot of all the quilt blocks gathered in one place. There are 49 block A and 36 block B. If you calculate that, it will give you an area of, well, more than my husband or I can calculate this early on a Sunday morning.

63.75 square feet! And that's not including the setting triangles!! This will be my very first quilt set on point. I did all the math for the setting pieces a year ago when I drafted the pattern, so all I did was trust my math and cut. All of the proper elements are in place and tomorrow I should be able to find some floor space and decide on a layout. Here's a teaser:

Aaaand I'm loving the grey! It seems to be the perfect sized speed bump for all that colour - just slowing the eye enough to notice block differentiations. It's not enough to overpower, and not enough to make it bland (as if anything could make all that colour bland). I also noticed that, should I not be able to find the space to lay it out, I could just randomly pick blocks to sew together and it will still look great.

I am going to love this!!! So will the Bride and Groom, crazy artists that they are.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hey, Bride!

Dear Bride and Groom,

This is the last block I've created for your quilt. It might be a fail, or it could be homespun genius. Do I keep it in the lineup or ditch it and make a new one?

Down To The Wire

I have one block left to sew. It's a very special block, so I'll finish it today and show you tomorrow. Here are the other new blocks.

These almost finished off my scrap box. I had just enough to do some with a colour theme. Since this is a belated wedding gift, I had to include the colours they had *actually* asked for: Purple is the groom's favorite colour. Not sure about the bride's favorite, but I'm fairly certain it is red or green. Bases covered!

Lastly, two more Jacob's Ladder blocks. Whomever came up with the idea to use precut patches as leaders and enders was a friggin genius. I would never have the patience to create this quilt if I wasn't forced to work at it slowly and methodically while powering through alternate projects. Even the cutting is done whenever I feel like it or as I have need for new pieces in the cigar box.

Tomorrow you can expect the very last block. You can also expect subsequent posts to have pictures of sashing....layout...finished top. I think I'm on track. Nothing like a deadline to motivate!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Good Work

I spent a day cutting.

I cut setting triangles for Rambo Bright, strips for block B frames, and I filled up my leaders and enders box with basics. The fabric on the left is pressed and ready to be cut into more B strips.

I created two new blocks for Rambo Bright. The race is on to see if I can complete this top in a week or so. The block on the left is mostly my Pixie's design, helped out by a little extra piecing to bring it up to size.

Another Jacob's Ladder block has emerged from leader-and-ender zone.

Remember this journal cover? I never did like the fit. The book slid around inside.

So I did some research and remade the cover.

This shot shows the practice piecing I *had* to do. I need the technique for a few future Rambo Bright blocks, and we all know that practice makes perfect.

Not shown is my extreme desire to piece some blocks today. Also not shown is the hairball that was coughed up on my sewing machine chair. I washed the chair, and it has been drying for a few hours.

Instead of piecing, I did something I've never done before: I pressed and sorted through ALL my scraps. I sorted into categories, instead of colour:

a) "Crumbs" went into the jar, destined to be transferred to their holding bag, waiting for a tiny piecing or ticker tape project.

b) Small pieces were stacked (more or less) and returned to my cutting table to be puzzled through and emerge as Rambo Bright blocks.

c) Medium sized pieces and d) pieced units are also on the chopping block.

e) Large pieces are now sitting on the bottom of the bin, along with

f) Strips, and

g) flannelette strips and h) flannelette pieces.

I may be brave enough now to put a towel on my chair and get some piecing done!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to Fail With Style: Tutorial

I wanted to post this tute yesterday, but I got distracted by the Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive Show. My darling Husband stayed awake over 24 hours so that he could watch the kids for me, and then he gave me a hundred dollars to spend. I have the most perfect Husband. I forgot to take pictures at the show, but I scored big time for my stash. I can now say that my stash is no longer pathetic.

Here's what I came home with:
- 25 fat quarters
- 4 fat 1/8's
- a huge spool of Aurifil for piecing
- a tiny bundle of black and white "sweet sixteenth's"

That is a total of 35 new fabrics! And since I can't resist, 20 of these fabrics have already been chopped up to add to my Jacob's Ladder. The cupcakes and b&w bundle are joining the collection of fabrics for the Pixie's new quilt. The plan has evolved from "black and white and pink" to "black and white and pink with emphasis on cupcakes." If it turns out well, I might write a pattern!

Now for the Feature Presentation: How To Fail With Style.

I wanted to use some old quilting hoops to frame wall art, and I pieced some hst's to fit one of my hoops. Here's what I did with it. Watch for the fail.

1. Prepare backing and batting. Spray baste quilt top to batting only.

2.Trace the hoop with a water soluble marker.

3. Measure hoop height, and add seam allowance. Use an easier-to-see marker to draw this line outside of the hoop tracing. I used the holes in my seam gauge to do this step.

4. Pin lace, right sides together, along the seam line you just drew.

When you get the the join, just turn back the cut ends and pin close together.

5. Baste the lace to the top/batting sandwich. Sew all the way around. Leave and/or replace the pins in the lace. You need it pinned out of the way for the next steps.

6. Place the backing face down on top.

Pin well all the way around. Mark a place to leave open for turning.

7. Turn the whole unit over so that the batting is on top, backing on bottom. Sew together, following the previous basting line, or just a hair inside of it. Leave an opening for turning, back stitching at the seam ends.

8. Cut around the stitching line.

9. Turn very carefully because there are still lots of pins holding the lace out of the way! Tug the lace gently to pull out the seam allowance, and press from both sides. The edges will be quite thick. If you can think of a good way to prevent this, do tell! Pin the opening closed and give it a quick hand stitch closed (not pictured). Pin baste the layers of your mini quilt. It will now be layered in the right order. Quilt as desired.

10. Fail alert! I quilted in such a way as to have the quilting disappear under the hoop frame. Before I was finished quilting, I was impatient to see how the finished product might look so I put it in the hoop.  See the fail?

Look closer: I did not account for thickness of quilt sandwich or thickness of wooden hoop. Way back in step 3, I should have added 3/4" instead of 1/4" for seam allowance. Hoop height PLUS 3/4" would have given me a full inch and a half outside of the frame line. Remember to do this if you use this hoop frame idea.

11. Plan B. I added more quilting. I ditched the frame. I hung the completed art on the wall between the girls' rooms because they were fighting about whose room it should go in.

I still love it, mistakes and all. This blog is all about the process, and I intend to keep it real and not edit out mistakes. I'm certainly not a perfect quilter. I love to break the rules. The quilt police haven't found me yet!

This lace and hoop frame idea would be great to use for dressing up nurseries (for the baby who already has a plethora of quilts), it would make lovely easy holiday decor - for any holiday. I might make a round quilt with a pieced wreath and hang it for Christmas. If you use the idea without the frame it would make lovely table runners, you can add heat-resistant batting for fancy potholders and trivits. You could trace any wierd shape you like before "bagging" the the limits of your imagination.

Coming up this week: much cutting. Much piecing. And much, much rushing.

A very talented local quilter has agreed to collaborate with me to get Rambo Bright finished before Thanksgiving. I need to bring it to my brother and his wife; It's already past the promised date!

It is also still in pieces! This will be a lot of for updates.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shopping Day

And therefore not a sewing day!

Here is how my HST's turned out with a little improv piecing to help the size. I can't wait to see this piece quilted and finished.

My leaders-and-enders project became one new Jacob's Ladder block. I love this picture because it's the first time I took a picture with true colour. I found a nice spot by a sunny window! Magic.

There will be little to no sewing today. The Punk has three doctor's appointments: It might be a very long day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


These are the squares I had cut out for a QAL.

I can't bring myself to follow someone else's quilting directives when there are so many good ideas of my own crowding my brain. So I turned the squares into HST's that look like this:

Now my sewing machine looks like this (and the cigar box has Jacob's Ladder pieces to use as leaders and enders):

And this is my very first bottle of Mod Podge. I'm proud of me.